July 13 Uranium Spill Commemoration

July 13 and 14, 2019 - The Red Water Pond Road Community on Navajo Nation will be hosting their 40th annual commemoration of the 1979 Uranium Tailings Spill that is the largest uranium tailings spill in the United States. 


On July 16, 1979, an earthen dam that held liquid uranium waste broke, releasing 1,000 tons of solid radioactive mill waste and more than 90 million gallons of acidic and radioactive liquids into the Rio Puerco. The contaminants flowed downstream through Gallup, NM and across nine Navajo chapters and into Arizona. Several days after the spill, United Nuclear Corporation sent a handful of people out with shovels and buckets in an attempt to remediate the mess. To this day there has been no reclamation, no study to see how far the contamination went and its impacts on local water systems and people’s health. United Nuclear Corporation has not been held accountable for the spill. 

"The spill released 93 million gallons of toxic and radioactive waste into the Rio Puerco and into the Rio Puerco watershed causing the water to turn yellow. The damage? The Navajo who were improperly provided notice, walked through the river and were burned on contact and suffered from boils. The Navajo livestock who drank from the rivers died after suffering from arthritis and red eyes. When butchered, the livestock intestines were yellow and stank of a foul smell. Just days after the “accident,” testing was performed 80 miles away. The test results showed 7,000 times the allowable standard of radioactivity for drinking water."  

  • July 13: Uranium Tailings Spill Commemoration, Saturday, July 13, 7 am to 3 pm 12 miles North of Red Rock State Park on State Highway 566 near Church Rock, NM
  • July 14: Nuclear Nation Film Showing, Sunday, July 14, 12 pm to 4 pm, The El Morro Theater, Gallup

The North East Church Rock community are concerned about the uranium contamination legacy that has poisoned Mother Earth, including our sacred waters, land, and livestock. This gathering will provide a venue to discuss and educate everyone about the impacts of uranium mining and milling and about the ongoing work to remove uranium contaminated soil from the surrounding areas to protect our families and environment. 

There will be a 7 am walk to the spill site to offer healing prayers. Following the walk people will gather under the shaded Arbor for food, community education, speeches, and a silent auction.

More information: https://swuraniumimpacts.org/press-release-july-13-uranium-spill-commemo...

Contact: Edith Hood, Red Water Pond Road Community Association 505.905.8051
Susan Gordon, Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment, coordinator 505.577.8438  
See also: 

Radmilla Cody speaks about the Church Rock Uranium Mill Spill at the International Uranium Film Festival 2018 in Window Rock.